The Route du Rhum will start this weekend, 6 November 2022 and will see 138 skippers take to the startline in a variety of classes hoping for victory

NOTE: Since this article was published the start date for the Route Du Rhum 2022 has been pushed back to Wednesday 9th November at 1415hrs local time. A major storm in the north Atlantic, which would have seen the fleet facing 50-knot winds and 6-7m swells was deemed too dangerous to start the race. You can watch the live stream of the start below

The Route du Rhum is one of the biggest solo offshore races in the world, and will see 138 singlehanded competitors take to the startline in Saint-Malo, France this year as they prepare to race alone and non stop to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe.

The Route du Rhum is a simple enough race, essentially, it’s a straight blast across the Atlantic as fast as possible.

The transatlantic course covers a total of 3542 miles, though typically the distance sailed is much higher than this as sailors try to find the most favourable weather conditions.

The Route du Rhum always takes place in early November, which means that sailors take on the autumnal Atlantic, often providing very windy weather as they boats leave France in the north Atlantic, cross the Bay of Biscay and dive south to try to pick up the favourable trade wind conditions.

What boats race in the Route du Rhum?

The Route du Rhum is split into six classes in total: the foiling Ultime trimarans; Multi 50 trimarans; IMOCA 60s; Class 40; and two classes for a broad range of boats that do not fit into any over the above categories, one for multihulls and one for monohulls.

As such the stories that come from the race vary, from the super high tech Ultimes who will fight it out to set new course records, to the IMOCA fleet, many of whom will be sailing a first solo transoceanic race in brand new super high tech boats, down to individuals on a shoestring budget who want to take on one of the worlds greatest solo challenges.

All boats in all classes start the 2022 Route du Rhum at the same time on the same (usually around 3 nautical mile long) startline. This makes for a spectacular sight and is relatively unique for such a big race.

The start of the race will be streamed on the Route du Rhum Youtube channel as well as the Route du Rhum Facebook page.

Yannick Bestaven’s IMOCA 60 Maitre CoQ V was launched in 2022 and will compete in the Route du Rhum Photo: Breschi /Maitre Coq

How long does the Route du Rhum take?

With such a wide variety of boats competing, finishing times will vary dramatically. The Ultime fleet will be the first boats to complete the course and they will all be looking to set a new race record should conditions allow.

With technical developments running at such a fast pace in this fleet, however, it will not take particularly special conditions for the record to fall, so expectations are high.

The current race record belongs to Francis Joyon who set the time of 7d 14h 21m 47s aboard IDEC Sport in the 2018 edition of the race.

One of those who will be fighting Joyon for victory in the Ultime class – sailing his radical foiler SVR-Lazartigue is François Gabart. Gabart currently holds the IMOCA 60 record time of 12d 04h 38m 55s which he set back in 2014.

The slowest boats in the fleet are likely to be in the Rhum Mono class and the record here is a little over 16 days, but such is the wider scope of performance, the slowest boats are likely to take over 20 days to complete the course.

François Gabart’s foiling UItime, SVR-Lazartigue

Where to follow the Route du Rhum

As mentioned the start will be streamed on the Route du Rhum Youtube channel and regular content will be uploaded there throughout the race.

We here at Yachting World will be keeping a close eye on proceedings and will keep you updated via our dedicated 2022 Route du Rhum homepage.

For those that want up the the minute information on which skipper is where you can follow the race live via the Route du Rhum race tracker, which can be found on the Route du Rhum website.

The Route du Rhum starts at 12:00 (GMT) on Sunday 6 November.

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